Where to find Santa across Raleigh, the Triangle in 2020
Posted November 9, 2020 9:00 p.m. EST
Updated December 2, 2020 12:51 p.m. EST
COVID is throwing a curveball in everything we do these days, including visiting with Santa Claus this holiday season. But businesses and organizations are finding creative ways to ensure that kids can deliver their wish list to the big guy.
Here's how to find Santa in Raleigh and across the Triangle in 2020. I'll update this post as I hear about more events and activities.
Local virtual Santas
Local Santas have gotten creative during these past many months, offering virtual opportunities to meet up with kids. Here are links to two local virtual programs:
At the mall
Both Triangle Town Center in Raleigh and The Streets at Southpoint in Durham will have Santa this year.
He'll be available for photos from Dec. 4 to Dec. 23 at Triangle Town Center.
He'll be available from Nov. 20 to Dec. 23 at The Streets at Southpoint.
Cherry Hill Programs, which operates holiday photos at malls across the country, runs both the Triangle Town Center and Southpoint operations. This year, face coverings are required for all guests ages 2 and up, physical distancing is required, physical barriers will be in place and kids can't sit on Santa's lap. It's best to make reservations in advance at both locations.
Make reservations through these links:
Through Cherry Hill, Cary Towne Center and Alamance Crossing in Burlington are offering virtual Santa experiences.
Crabtree Valley Mall in Raleigh also will offer a similar in-person Santa experience from Nov. 21 to Dec. 24. Kids and families will be positioned six feet in front of Santa for all photos. Face coverings are required for all guests and staff, including Santa.
"Regardless of government mandates at the time of your visit, we are prioritizing the health and safety of everyone all season by keeping masks mandatory," according to the mall.
Advanced reservations are strongly encouraged to limit wait times. And note that there will be no physical contact with Santa. The mall recommends that parents have a conversation with their kids before the visit to let them know what to expect. Check Crabtree Valley's website for more information. (At the latest check, the mall is in the process of building out its reservation page.)
And Berkeley Mall in Goldsboro also is hosting Santa. The experience will be touchless, and the mall is encouraging children to bring their letter to Santa to drop in a mailbox as they walk through the Winter Wonderland and wave to Santa from a distance.
At holiday light displays
Most of the region's holiday light displays have nixed their meet and greets with Santa this year, but a few are offering opportunities to see the big guy. Check our list of holiday light displays for details.
Cabela's and Bass Pro Shops
The two businesses with Triangle locations launched their Christmas wonderland in early November with lots of COVID-related safety measures, including a "magic shield" between kids and Santa, mask requirements and more. But Santa is there, along with some crafts to take home.
Santa Express 2020
The Great Raleigh Trolley is offering virtual and in-person Santa Expresses this year. Kids can chat with Santa online through the virtual experience. During Santa Express Live, they'll have the opportunity to meet with him personally. Tickets, however, are limited and expected to sell out very quickly. Face masks also are required. Head to the Great Raleigh Trolley website for details.
The annual holiday market at the NC Fairgrounds will take place this year and include meet and greets with Santa on Nov. 27, Nov. 28 and Nov. 29. Check the website now to get your tickets in advance, so you can snag a discount and take advantage of contactless entry.
Clayton General Store
The shop will have Santa and Mrs. Claus on hand on Nov. 28.
This Cary business with a play space for young kids is offering limited time with Santa in December. Head to Bumble Brews' website for details.
Breakfast with Santa & Mrs. Claus
The Raleigh Jaycees will host a Breakfast with Santa & Mrs. Claus on Dec. 5. Tickets, which start at $15, are limited and available only through Nov. 15.
Santa Drive Thru
Financial Resource Management in north Raleigh will be hosting a Santa Drive Thru from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., Dec. 5. To participate, be sure to bring at least one gift to donate to Toys for Tots and RSVP online. Once there, kids can share their wish list and get their picture taken with Santa, all from the comfort of your own car. Check the company's announcement for more information.
The Barn at Vino
The Barn at Vino in Stem will host Cocoa with Santa on Dec. 6. Tickets start at $20. Kids will decorate cookies, make an ornament, write a letter to Santa and see him at a distance. Stem is about 50 minutes from Raleigh.
Mommy and Me Christmas Tea
The Yellow House in Clayton is offering a Christmas tea for moms and little ones. A photographer also will be on hand for photos with Santa. It takes place Nov. 21. Check the Eventbrite for details.
Maple View Farm
The popular ice cream shop in Hillsborough will be hosting Santa on Dec. 7, Dec. 14 and Dec. 21. Santa will remain on Maple View's porch area while visitors are served through drive-up service.
The Chapel Hill destination will be offering brunch with Santa and other events in December. You'll need to make reservations in advance. These fill up very quickly every year.